In podcasting, successfully hitting the mic is all about getting the right amount of audience engagement mixed with the right personality. In this episode, Stacey Harris, a social media strategist and trainer working with frustrated entrepreneurs, teaches us how to get the audience we deserve using the right strategies. Stacy’s method in producing her podcast called Hit The Mic revolves around some ancient marketing techniques. She talks about how to build an audience through a people-focused strategy and also shares some of the best ways to increase listeners and book great guests. Producing an episode is definitely not enough to scale up, so know more about how you can produce your own podcast that you can monetize with Stacy’s great tips.
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Center Of Influence: Hit The Mic with Stacey Harris
I’ve got another cool podcaster for you and we found out we’re practically next–door neighbors on top of everything. I have a new best friend. Stacey Harris is a social media strategist and trainer working with frustrated entrepreneurs who are tired of spending hours online. I’m tired of spending hours online. This sounds familiar with no results. We all know because I talk about it all the time. 1.3% conversion rate on social media, that’s horrible. Through her podcast, live video membership, community and coaching, she helps business owners take control of their social and actually see results so they can have the impact they desire. Don’t we all want to have some great impact? We’re going to connect with Stacey at The Stacey Harris. I love that because that‘s your dot–com, that’s your social media. When you have a regular name, a name that a lot more people have, you’ve got to stand out. Welcome, Stacey.
Thank you. I am super excited to be here. The Stacey Harris mostly exists because I didn’t realize how common the last name Harris was when I married my husband. I was like, “Seriously? You couldn’t have had something unique that would have worked?” so The Stacey Harris took off.
That’s why I have the last name Hazzard. I took it as my married name because it was way cooler than my last name, which was Davio. Everybody said Davis and I was like, “Forget that.”
Hazzard is super cool. It’s like you’re going to jump over the canyons or something.
Who knows what we’re going to do? Social media and podcasting go hand–in–hand really well. At what point did you decide to start a podcast on your marketing journey?
I have been in business for a few years. We started the podcast a few years ago.
You’re ancient in the podcast industry.
We’ve just released episode 459.
Congrats, getting close to that big 500.
Thank you. It stemmed from I spent a couple of years subjecting myself to writing blog posts, which was very difficult for me.
You’re subjecting yourself right there and it says it all.
There’s a much bigger filter between my brain and my fingers typing than my brain and my mouth. It could go either way.
How long did it take you to write a blog post? About how many words was it?
It’s like a 500–word blog post, which is not huge at all. It would take me a week and not to mention the time we’re not counting, which is the time where you’re sitting there thinking about the fact that you should be writing a blog post which is probably like a month.
LinkedIn did a study and I cite it sometimes in my talks. To write a 400 to 600-word post, which is about the average size that most people write, it would take four hours or more for most people. You can’t grow a business and spend that amount of time actually writing. It’s not possible.
Even more than the hours spent, let’s separate the technical hours spent, the brain space it took up.WPodcasting is all about making sure that you make sense and that your content is easy to consume. Click To Tweet
The nagging, “I should be writing,” as you’re pointing out.
The self-criticism of like, “I spent all that time. I spent four to eight hours and it’s not even good. It’s not great.”
“It’s not the best piece of journalism I’ve ever put out.”
No magical life–changing pros here.
Right after I started my podcast, I got my Inc. column. They were like, “You need to write six a month to have a column.” I was like, “How long are they?” They’re like, “About 600 to 800 words.” I’m like, “Okay.” I would be so afraid to publish it because I’m so critical of myself. I was like, “This is not any good.” It’d take me hours and hours just to get it up and published, not even write it, and I was like, “This is ridiculous. There has to be a better way.” Now, I totally do it. I do my podcast interviews and then I write my articles. It’s so much easier.
That’s exactly what I do. Whenever I submit guest posts to anywhere, whenever I’m writing articles for anyone, they are straight-up repurposed from transcripts of the podcast. It’s part of the luxury of sticking with podcasting that sometimes gets forgotten because so much of podcasting is playing that long game. It’s sticking with it even on the days where it feels it’s a lot of effort and the, “Am I talking to anyone?” moments. I think about the fact that I have a gigantic library of content now that I can repurpose at any time. It gets turned into the core of my talks when I speak. I’m speaking at She Podcast in October. The base of that talk is a podcast episode I did.
Obviously, it had great traction so you’re testing out your content as well. Tell us more about your podcast.
My podcast is called Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris. It’s not super cleverly named. I’m The Stacey Harris. We talk about social media, email marketing and content marketing specifically. The real core of what we talk about though across any of those pieces is strategy and how building and executing your plan is where you actually see results.
I was listening to one of your episodes as I was doing my research, which I always do. I think it was probably one of your latest episodes and you were giving the three essential things everyone should be doing. You were like, “I know I have hammered this into people, but I might as well throw all the others out and there’s one thing and it’s the strategy.” I loved that because I see people don’t understand what strategy is. They confuse tactics and strategy.
Often, we see on Pinterest or LinkedIn or wherever that this thing, Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories, these are going to be the things that get your results. It’s like, “If your audience watches your Facebook Live,” because here’s the deal, mine won’t. They’re not going to sit there and watch Facebook Live. They will however watch me on Instagram Stories so I’m using that tactic, but those both are part of my overall strategy. Here’s the real deal is I’m one of the few social media people who will tell you this. It’s partnered with an offline strategy. I talk to people. I get on conversations in Zoom and have these conversations.
It’s actual people connection.
It’s a referral strategy where my clients refer our agency to their friends and their colleagues. It’s a part of a larger marketing strategy. When we don’t get results, it really is. I posted something on Facebook one time and nobody bought it.
How many people have done that? Everybody. We’ve been having lots of conversations about this because it’s not just people who are brand new to this but those of us who’ve been doing it for a while. Our show up rates is getting lower and lower on webinars and other things. Luckily for us, our conversion rate hasn’t been hit because the really active people show up. It’s frustrating when you’re there and you’re like, “There are ten people. There used to be 50. What’s going on?” It feels frustrating to a lot of people out there. Marketing nowadays, it’s always shifting.
It is always shifting and this is one of the reasons that I’m a social media person who is not the queen of anything. I don’t love Facebook. I’m not an evangelist for Instagram. I’m not all about Pinterest. I use all of them depending on what I’m doing, depending on who the client is, depending on who the audience is. We’re building a strategy based on very old school marketing techniques. Treat people like people, even if they’re on the internet. When you follow that and you build a plan to meet people where they are, to connect with them where they are, to treat them like people, to build relationships and rapport with them. Whether that’s in–person or virtual, that’s where you consistently see results. Maybe I get ten people to show up but I’ve got ten people to buy. I’d rather get ten people to show up and buy than 100 people to show up and just watch.
When you started the podcast and that was pretty early on, a few years ago. Did you think it was going to work? Were you like, “Let’s test this thing out and see what happens?”
I think I’m perpetually in that, “Let’s test this thing out.” We’re a few years into the podcast and I’m still testing things. When we started the show, we did two a week. We did one interview and one solo episode. They were much longer than they are now. Now, I very rarely have a guest.
Marketing people don’t have attention spans. Have you noticed that?
“This works, will that work too?” Even if we find stuff that works, we’re like, “What else will work?” For me, it’s something that I still play with a lot and it’s helpful because our agency does a lot of podcast production for our clients and along with our social and stuff. It’s nice because playing with mine allows me to test some things before I try it on another pig. It tends to be the guinea pig podcast.
That’s why I have four so I can guinea pig different things.
I think for me, the biggest relief was I didn’t have that going back to that brain space of avoiding my blog writing. I went to school to be an audio engineer. My background is in audio and I’m very excellent like I love talking. I was the girl in elementary school who got the social butterfly feedback on the report cards.
Your parents were like, “You got an award.”
For me, it came very naturally, the relief initially of like, “I have actually found the way I like creating content,” and this is why I like strategy over tactic. What’s worked for me was the thing I was most comfortable executing and I found customers who liked receiving information that way. We turn it into transcript for people who want to read it. Our show notes are literally a full transcript of our show, they’re much more than 500 words but if you want to be in there, go at it. There you go.
This is what we advocate for our Podetize as well. Full link transcripts do it. There’s no reason not to. If nobody reads it but Google, you’re improving your whole marketing strategy anyway. That is an important tactic not to skip.
It’s the world’s cheapest SEO trick.The more you engage, the more people see you. Click To Tweet
Is there anything interesting, exciting happened to you since you started podcasting? Did you get some great stage offer? What has happened to you?
There’s been the basic stuff. I’ve got more speaking gigs. I got invited to come in and speak to people’s masterminds because people could see how I talk. They could see how I teach. They could see how I’m going to transfer information from my brain to their brain in front of the room. You can really feel that experience more in podcasting and even video than you can in a blog post. Few of us come across the same way we write. That is how I got that, but I think the most impactful and exciting, the thing that keeps me podcasting 459 episodes later is there are people who will DM me on Instagram or send me emails like, “I’ve been listening to the show forever. I love it. Thanks for this.” I’ll be at a conference and I’ll be going up an escalator and somebody else will be going down, “You’re Stacey Harris. I listen to your show.” I’m like, “Cool.”
The people and the relationships I’ve built with people who’ve been guests on the show. You and I realized when we sat down now, we lived next–door to each other and we’re like, “Let’s get coffee.” The relationships, the people I’ve been able to meet are probably my favorite part, probably the most impactful part. It helps. It’s a huge part of how we get clients and I make revenue and I’ve gotten speaking. All of that is fun but the people are my favorite part, which sounds super cheesy.
That goes to your topic, building an audience and having a strategy and then having a people–focused strategy in general. I love that. I agree with you, I think that’s my favorite part because I was working in a home office and I worked with my husband every day and my daughter now. If I want to get out of the office, I’ve got to find ways. Every day I’m technically out of the office, virtually out of the office getting to meet someone new. It fuels me so I understand exactly what you mean by that. People who set up their podcast a while ago, we made tons of mistakes, screwed up the lot and had all sorts of things go wrong. What are some funny or cautionary tales you have to share about that?
I was lucky because I knew how to edit so I skipped all of those mistakes. The big mistake I made was trying to firehose people with information. I think back to how freaking long my episodes were. I was releasing two one–hour episodes a week. It’s a lot of work to consume. If you think about it from and this is what we often do, a little side tool here. Think about the person on the consumption side. Think about how long it takes to consume two hours of content per week. Some people can pull it off. I don’t know if you listen to Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert Podcast. I do religiously. I’m obsessed with it. It’s way more interesting than two hours of marketing advice a week, let us just be honest.
He’s way more interesting than your average person anyway so that’s a lucky thing.
I would much rather sit and listen to Dax Shepard for two hours a week to talk to Peter Krause or Busy Philipps. That is entertainment. It’s easier to get ingrained in, but when you’re doing an info–based like, “Learn this, execute it,” and here’s the other side of it. I’m not giving them any time to implement and try any of this stuff because they’re so busy consuming all of my stuff. I’m like, “Go do stuff with it.”
Our first podcast was in 3D printing, it was called WTFFF?! and that was a few years ago. We have over 569 episodes. We did five days a week in the beginning. I look back and I go, “My poor audience. How could they even know?” Ours were mostly twenty minutes except for the interviews we did once a week for 45 minutes, so we weren’t at least overwhelming them. Still I was like, “They could not catch up, the poor people.”
This is why I go back to this idea of sometimes we tend to look around and I think that was a popular model several years ago. There were some big podcasters executing that really well and it worked for them. Sometimes we see what’s working for somebody else and we go, “That works, I’ll just do it,” and we don’t go, “That’s actually not the audience we’re talking to. That’s not the kind of relationship we want to have with them. That’s not in alignment with the values of our brand.” The core value for my brand is action. It’s like, “Listen to me for twenty minutes and then go do something with this and then we’ll talk again next week.”
I talked to Hailley Griffis from the Buffer podcast, The Science of Social Media, I’m sure you’ve listened to that one before. She said that’s what they did. They started with this formula of doing an hour, discovered marketers wanted ten minutes and once they shifted it, their podcast really took off too. Listeners consumed more, they wanted more, and they were ready for the next episode. I thought, “Wow.” People need to think about this because so often we take these guru ideas of how to start our show and what to do which is why we ended up doing five a week. It worked because it did what it was supposed to do to launch us. We accelerated against all the competitors and all of that work, but to keep that up and sustain that, that wasn’t the best interest of our audience.
It is for some people. John Lee Dumas is a great example of somebody who does a weekly show but he built a weekly show because it was literally built for commuters. It was built for you to listen to Monday through Friday on your way to and from work. That was the brand. That was the core value of that show. It was created that way for a reason. That’s why it works. It’s not that that’s a bad idea. That’s what works for his demographic. That’s what works for the value of his brand and that’s awesome. That’s not the same as mine. It doesn’t make either one of us right or wrong, it just makes us talking to different people and this is why you have to build your strategy, not follow blueprints. The Pinterest best time to post articles are always the things that drive me the craziest because I’m like, “Look at your analytics. That’s your best time to post.” It varies. We have to build our own strategy for our own audience.
Let’s hit into the core of some of our tips and you’ve been giving us so many great ones already. Let’s hit for some of the best ways to do some things. What are some of the best ways you found to book great guests?
It’s a referral. For me, asking people who I have loved interviewing who they know is hands–down my favorite way to find guests. Cool people tend to know cool people. We often default to, “I heard so–and–so on that show and so I’ll book them too,” and I think that’s how we end up with guests who were on. There’s nothing wrong with this. I do it regularly. We’re on the podcast tour and we all end up releasing the same show around the same time. Whereas when I say, “Who do you know that you’re feeling really inspired by? Who do you know that you love talking to?” You tend to get their biz bestie who’s maybe not on the podcast and you go, “Would you mind introducing us?” Those were always my favorite guests. Those were always the people who I have ended up being friendly with and having a relationship with. It’s referrals and asking people, still my favorite.
How about increasing listeners? What are some best ways to increase listeners?
For me, having a solid marketing strategy for the podcast. I think we sometimes think about marketing strategies for our offerings and we forget that we have to market our content. Producing an episode is not enough. There’s a whole part after that and the biggest part that gets left out of that is marketing your old episodes. We tend to think about our most recent episode and it’s, “We’ve loved this week’s episode and this is what we’re talking about,” but the bulk of my new listeners stumble upon me somewhere in the catalog.
They find something and they’re like, “I was looking for this solution.” Making sure I’m regularly sharing everything from my catalog and really intentionally regularly sharing the podcast just as value. I think it’s my favorite way to grow listenership. Every once in a while, we go on a real kick where we’ll even build some cold ads, like ads to people who’ve not heard the show before. Not to buy anything, not to opt–in for anything. We’re putting the episodes that have maybe done the best in the last quarter in front of a cold audience. That is always good for a big spike and that usually sticks around because we’re running the content they love.The more you engage, the more people see you. Click To Tweet
You are an audio engineer. Producing in a professional way, what can your average person do?
I think that we tend to think that podcasts are more difficult than they need to be. If you put a little bit of thought into where you are and what you’re speaking into, I find that the biggest fixes audio–wise are super cheap. Put in headphones, even if you’re recording alone, if you want to hear back what you’re listening to. Too often we hear people who are listening to themselves and they’re listening to themselves through the speakers and I’m like, “If you want to listen to yourself, do it through the headphones and then also pay attention to the space you’re in. Put some stuff on the wall. Throw something over your computer. Softening what’s around you will go a long way.”
You’re speaking to the choir. We literally have done whole episodes on that because it’s the number one thing people make the mistake of and it creates so much more work in editing later, so much more time or money spent depending on whether you’re doing it yourself or paying someone.
They so often think, “If I had a better mic.” A better mic is just going to pick up your terrible room noise.
We have a whole comp audit because we’ve found the same thing. Encouraging engagement, this is a thing we keep talking about here and is the buzz out there. It’s great to have a lot of followers but if you don’t have engagement, you have nothing. How can you encourage engagement? You should be an expert in this. I’m so looking forward to your answer.
For me, I think it starts at the very first part. Let’s say with our podcast, we’re talking to them. Think about the mindset that you’re producing content from. Are you talking with your audience or at your audience? What is the environment that you’re creating? My episodes are almost always alone and it literally sounds like I’m having a very one–sided conversation at the moment because it’s your job later to come in and share your part. I tell them, “Here’s the idea, we’ve got to tell these people things over and over again. It’s part of it.” I say, “DM your questions. Let me know on Facebook what you thought,” but also I leave things open, “I’d love to hear how you’re using this,” those things. Here’s the secret sauce, when you get one person to engage, respond back to them.
Often we’re like, “Only one person engaged. Why won’t anybody engage?” but we never responded or we went, “Thanks for listening.” No. “I love that you loved the show. What was your favorite part? Who would you like to see in a future guest? Do you have a favorite episode?” Ask them a question. Keep the conversation going. Treat these online interactions the same way you would if you were in a room. If somebody came up to you and you’re like, “I love that episode you did with Stacey,” and then you were like, “Thanks for listening.”
That would be horrible. That would not be me. That would not be normal.
“That’s awesome. We loved having Stacey. I loved what you said about such and such. What was your takeaway? Did you take action on anything?” The more you engage, the more people see that. Not to mention from an algorithm standpoint, whether it’s you or them, that’s more comments on the social piece meaning now it’s seen as important and people see it.
More people will see it and maybe more people will engage. Imagine that.
You have to respond back.
What are some of the best ways to monetize your show? I’m sure you’re monetizing it in a more business way, but how are some of the other people you’ve helped?
For me and for our clients, we’re all monetizing through our own businesses. That’s the most reliable way to monetize your podcast is build it around a service. That’s not the same for everybody. Certainly there are shows like Dax Shepard’s podcast or The West Wing Weekly is another one I love where they’re monetizing through ads because that’s the model for the format of their show. In my experience, if you’re giving information, whether it’s B2B or B2C, we have a client whose podcast we produce who’s a relationship coach. It’s B2C very much, she’s not talking to business owners and selling her tactics there but we’re monetizing it through her programs and through her other offerings. I think whenever possible, if that’s an option, that’s my preferred way. It’s got the best ROI. It’s got the most consistent ROI and it allows you to maintain a ton of control creatively.
Authority, that’s what we call it here, you’ve got a ton of authority. You have created a show that is in some ways, if you’re looking for something and people find you, it becomes bingeable because now I want to hear what you have to say about Instagram, LinkedIn. I want to go through the whole thing. I want to hear about the strategy thing. I hear you mentioning here and now I’ve got to go back to the beginning. There are a lot of podcasts out there in social media and other areas. What makes you different? What’s your special theme? What makes you unique?
I am The Stacey Harris. For me, and this is universal, podcasts, social, nobody is saying anything unique at this point. We’re far enough into the whole written word thing that most of us are sharing our version of something. Personality plays a big part. There are absolutely people who could get tons from my show who just aren’t into it and that’s cool. There are people who love my show who doesn’t love other social media shows and that’s fine. There are also people who love my show and every other social media show and that’s cool too. For me, it’s about making sure that when you’re listening to me, it makes sense. It’s easy to consume. I’m not spitting jargon at you. I’m not making anything more complicated than it needs to be. It is not my job to make you feel like I’m smarter than you. It is my job to have a conversation with you about what you want next in your marketing and that’s what I do. I think that sometimes it is different.
You are obviously everywhere on social media. Are you everywhere at The Stacey Harris?
I am. My personal brand stuff is The Stacey Harris everywhere and our agency is everywhere uncommonly more. I like uniformity in social handles whenever humanly possible because it’s super easy just to go. Google The Stacey Harris and every search result will be some social media channel of mine and my website.
There’s another Tracy Hazzard who’s a musician and so you would think that her iTunes and all of that stuff would outrank me every day, but it doesn’t because my amount of content beats her every day. I actually am lucky that my name is common enough but I’m outranking because of the content. That helps you. The mistake one of my clients made, which I’d love to share with you because we were talking about having a common name as an issue and you managed to brand that and work around that. He has not an uncommon name and he’s pretty well–known in his industry but it’s distinctive enough. He made the mistake of trying to be personable and approachable on his website as advised by a branding strategist. It says Adam this, Adam that, it was everything just his first name. That will never rank on Google. He’s typing in his name into Google and nothing’s showing up. I was like, “You made this tiny little rookie error,” but from bad advice from a branding strategist of course. He didn’t do it himself. I was like, “We can fix this.” Within a couple of weeks, it was adjusted and it was fine. The classic problem when you have a common name too, do not add something to it and you manage to do that. That’s great branding.
Thank you. It’s interesting because I lucked out the other way when I decided to do the whole personal brand thing. I had been in business a couple of years and I really wanted a Twitter handle that was my name. I was able to navigate and get The Stacey Harris. It was funny, I was at the time cohosting a web show called YFE chat, Young Female Entrepreneurs chat. I was much younger then and I was actually an entrepreneur. The host always referred to me as The Stacey Harris, all one word and it became a joke. It took on this weird life of its own. I lucked out the other way. Now, when I write stuff, when I sign off on stuff and even in our emails when we sign off on content, we’re always using The Stacey Harris essentially as if it were one word. It came from the host of the show I cohosted, thinking it was fun and making it a thing. It’s funny because as much as I would like it to be, it was completely intentional. I’m very smart and I totally knew it, I just lucked out the other direction.
You’ve mentioned Dax Shepard but who else would you love to interview? Who is your big get?Trying to firehose people with information on your podcast can be a huge mistake. Click To Tweet
I don’t think I would like to interview Dax Shepard because I don’t think I could keep control of the interview. I’m not willing to share that level of emotion. I can’t get on his level stories–wise. I’m not as cool. For me, I love politics like Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama. That for me would be like, “I’m going to die.” There would be heavy breathing and a lot of champagne that got consumed when I got that yes. I think something like that. For me, I’m moving into a phase in my life and to get cheesy with it, my legacy. Where I’m looking at the impact that we have as we get bigger messages and bigger megaphones and more money in the economy and those things. As female leaders, we’re positioning ourselves to make some cool moves and have a big impact in a way we haven’t ever been able to before. If I were to start another show now, it would definitely be something more driven by that impact and getting those guests who have navigated some crazy times historically and some crazy events in their life and worked through them so that they could stand up with that megaphone and make that impact.
That’s interesting that you would do something more personal than less business this time around.
That will be the next one. It certainly has no release day or name as of now. I’m fully busy with the current show but it’s either that or a full–on, TV–driven, guilty pleasure show, one of the two.
The show, Hit the Mic, it goes live what days?
We go live on Thursdays.
The Stacey Harris, you can find her everywhere on social media. We will have a follow–up article coming out in Authority Magazine as well. For those of you who are in the podcast industry and don’t know, you can be featured by me and Authority Magazine and get one of these interviews. You just have to apply and you can apply at FeedYourBrand.co/prnow. Thank you so much for reading. Stacey, thank you so much for being here. I can’t wait to get together in person and have some serious social media debates about what’s going on in the industry too. I look forward to maybe having you on the show again to talk some more and deeper about developing a social media strategy for your show. I think that would be really valuable to this audience. Thank you for being here. To our audience, go feed your brand, go build your center of influence. Go out there and podcast. Get going because it is so valuable. We’re bringing people every single week and showing you that again and again. Thank you for reading. This is Tracy Hazzard on Feed Your Brand.
- Stacey Harris
- Episode 459 of Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris
- Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris
- Armchair Expert Podcast
- Hailley Griffis – previous episode
- The Science of Social Media
- The West Wing Weekly
- Authority Magazine
About Stacey Harris
I love working with entrepreneurs like you. You’re ready to step up to the mic and take massive action in cultivating and leading a community of amazing people. I know your frustrations about not having enough time, about just figuring it out and it all changing, about trying to find the balance between scheduling and engaging. It’s tough!
I’ve spent YEARS figuring it out and I’m still learning every day because it changes all of the time.
But, I’m here for you… I’m in the trenches of social media learning and testing every small detail that you could ever think of – so I can pass that information down to you.
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